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Sheep breeders unite to boycott Balmoral Show; Northern Ireland: Dispute rages over event format.

Byline: CHRIS MCCULLOUGH

There will be no Blackface sheep at Northern Ireland's premier agricultural event, the Balmoral Show, this week.

Breeders of both the Blackface Perth-type and Lanark-type sheep have opted to boycott the show.

The stance has taken place due to what some breeders are describing as an "impossible situation" resulting from "sheer arrogance" of the show organisers, the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS).

The problems between the Blackface breeders and the RUAS originate from the show organisers launching its four-day format in 2017.

This move, say the sheep breeders, has been very hard on animals making them stand in a pen in the heat for five days, as they arrive at the show one day ahead of it starting.

"I, along with other breeders, have lost both ewes and lambs after bringing them home from Balmoral Show due to heat stress and the unfamiliar surroundings," said one breeder from County Londonderry.

"It is simply too much to ask for our sheep to stand at Balmoral Show all that time."

Ahead of last year's show, some breeders met with show organisers and asked if they could bring their sheep into the show on the Friday morning for judging, and then take them home on the Saturday evening.

This, said the breeders, would be less stressful on their sheep, and the RUAS agreed to the suggestion.

However, it seems the RUAS sheep committee has reneged on that decision ahead of this year's show and insisted all sheep must be resident at the event for its duration.

A breeder from Country Antrim said: "We are very disappointed with the attitude of the RUAS and decided to withhold entries this year. We are not even attending the show socially either."

A RUAS spokeswoman said: "The Perth-type Blackface and the Lanarktype Blackface classes have been cancelled. The classes were cancelled this year due to a lack of entries."

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LAST SHOWING: Scottish breeder Allan Wight judging Blackface sheep at Balmoral Show in 2018

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Publication:The Press and Journal (Aberdeen,Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 14, 2019
Words:331
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